August 26, 2008

Iowa Conservative sessions 2008, Part III

NOTE: After having read on The Good Raised Up my account of my experience at Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) sessions, the clerk of IYMC sent me the following minute, approved at sessions a few weeks ago.

The minute below illustrates better than I could the care with which the yearly meeting responded to the very different events in Postville, Iowa and in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. See my earlier post for more details, particularly the section "Addressing emergent concerns in greater Iowa." --Liz
From Sixth Day, 1 Eighth Month 2008

We turned our attention to the two concerns lifted up by Whittier Monthly Meeting by worshipping together to seek leadings of the Divine in how we might be called to respond.

Flooding in Cedar Rapids and other areas in Iowa – Several ideas of possible action were lifted up. We ask the Yearly Meeting clerk to work with Whittier Friends in sending ideas of how we as individuals and monthly meetings & worship groups speak to the needs of our neighbors suffering from recent flooding. The Meetings asks the clerk to be in touch with Friends United Meeting in Iowa to see if there are ways we can join them in work they may be doing and share that information with monthly meeting clerks of IYMC. We ask Yearly Meeting Representatives to consider what financial contribution we might give as a Yearly Meeting to the organizations suggested by Whittier, and invite Friends to contribute as individuals as well. It might be that we will learn of some intergenerational service project members of the Yearly Meeting can be invited to join. Although the flooding happened over a relatively short amount of time, recovery will be a long process and we understand we may only be beginning to understand what God may be inviting us to do.

We know we are relatively few and this is a bigger problem than we alone can address, but we are not being asked to address this alone. We can add what we have to what others are giving. Drop by drop we fill the bucket with the waters of Love.

Considering the concern about the immigration raid at Postville, IA and the conditions in which laborers work and live – Unlike the crisis from the flooding, the crisis in Postville is human made. We see a need to consider both material needs of the movement and to speak out against the oppression that creates it.

We minute our moral outrage at the treatment of immigrants in the raids at Postville and by the action of our government there and around this country. We ask monthly meetings, worship groups and individuals to be in contact with their State legislators by writing and in person, to ask that fair labor laws be enacted to protect all workers in Iowa including immigrants. We ask Nominating Committee to bring forward names of Friends to serve on an ad hoc committee patterned after Friends Peace Teams to stay informed about what is happening in Postville, and alert Yearly Meeting Friends to what actions might need to be taken by us. We suggest that Representatives consider budgeting $5,000 to be divided between the flood relief and Postville needs. We ask Bill Deutsch and Whittier Friends to be available to consult with Representatives on this. We can only do what is given to us to do, but we do need to do what is given to us.

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RELATED POSTS:

Part I of my experiences at IYMC 2008
Part II of my experiences at IYMC 2008
Other posts in The Good Raised Up tagged with "IYMC"

4 comments:

cath said...

The sad thing about the Postville situation is that after raiding the plant and rounding up the undocumented workers, those same jobs (at low pay) are now being offered to legal immmigrants who are refugees from Africa, still trying to get set up in their new country.

I'm concerned about the treatment they will receive. They cannot be deported because they are legal immigrants, but refugees are often taken advantage of.

cath

Liz Opp said...

Hi, Cath.

Yes, the concerns about labor laws are still there for Postville and other places. And IYMC spent time encouraging one another to write their legislators and address the labor laws so that others won't be exploited as these "economic refugees" had been.

Of course, all this will take time, and it should never have happened in the first place.

In addition, just a week ago, a former supervisor at Agriprocessors had been arrested for "conspiring to hire illegal immigrants and aiding and abetting their hiring"--something that was also speculated during IYMC sessions.

Blessings,
Liz

cath said...

Liz--I'm not sure that the immigrants who were deported from Postville were seeking refugee status. At any rate, it would be impossible for them under current refugee laws.

That aside, I would like to see a better way to welcome those who come to our country seeking a means to help their families--whether they are immigrants here because of economic conditions at home or because they are relocated refugees who cannot return to their homeland.

We've got a long way to go and many hard hearts to soften.

My ministry is with refugees, and I hope to have a blog up at some point when a sad family situation comes to it's final resolution.

In the meantime, I would encourage folks to look at http://www.newroutes.org

cath

Liz Opp said...

Cath -

Sorry it's been so long since replying to your comment!

"We've got a long way to go and many hard hearts to soften."

Yes, indeed.

As to the concept of "economic refugee," this was a tangent within the IYMC discussion, that Friends and allies to undocumented workers might do well by creating language that would speak to the various types of refugees that exist, even if laws are not in place to name them as such.

There seems to be some Truth in that a number of men and women who risk their lives by coming into the States in the manner in which they do, take that risk because of working conditions--economic conditions--where they had been living.

So what is it that we would call that sort of personal/familial/spiritual/economic/moral need...? What would we call it so that immigration officials and the legal system would be able to see the humanity that underlies the struggle...?

Blessings,
Liz